AMHERST - He turned pro only eight months ago and already Amherst's Josh Strickland is known as one of the top heavyweight MMA (mixed martial arts) fighters in Canada.
He will be on the top card at the Mixed Martial Arts tournament May 31, in Moncton, then on June 20 he will be flown to Montreal, where he will be in the main event at the King of the Cage, fighting for the Canadian heavyweight title.
In Moncton the 31-year-old fights Ontario's Jason Cecil.
"Jason is one step on the road towards my chance of winning the Canadian title, so I'm going to try to be really impressive with him," Strickland said.
The two have fought before, with Strickland winning in the first round with a choke.
"He said I took him out of his game too quick and he's got a lot of new stuff to show me," Strickland said, adding Cecil's plan might be slightly outdated.
"I've been training down in Truro at Marmac Athletics for a few months now with Mickey Marshall, he's ranked third in the world in kickboxing," Strickland said. "I would have to say that before I was an OK striker but now if you see me hitting the pads you would think I am a striker."
Strickland has 15 years of freestyle wrestling and six years of Judo under his belt.
"I did my judo here at the local school under Frank Landell," Strickland said. "He's a very good judo guy."
Strickland said the judo training he's taken in Amherst is perfect for MMA.
"They have a very sparring oriented program," he said. "You get used to doing throws in actual situations as opposed to just practicing. 99 per cent of the takedowns I've done so far in the cage have been from judo."
Strickland said any young athlete in Amherst looking into MMA couldn't do much better than take judo with Landells and boxing with Roger Dorrington at the Amherst Boxing Club.
"That adds two important pieces to your MMA game."
He said if you can make it to Truro then you should go to Marmac Athletics.
"They have some amazing coaches."
Strickland does standup with Marshall and does his ground work under Jason Mackay.
What he doesn't like is what he calls "Mcdoughjoes."
"It's where anybody and their dog starts a mixed martial arts club," Strickland said. "They get they're training off the Internet and they think they're experts."
Strickland spends four or five days training every week.
"I'll go down to the gym in Truro and do a few rounds in the gym. I'll then do two hours of conditioning and two hours of training on the ground."
I'm exited about being in the main event in Moncton," Strickland said. "Hopefully I'll win that fight, then it's off to the fight in Montreal. "I look forward to winning and bringing the belt to Amherst."